The Missouri Valley Conference is pretty wide open entering the 2019-20 season, as there isn’t any one standout team, but there also isn’t a team you can pinpoint that’s going to finish at the bottom of the standings. Only seven points separate the top team from the bottom team in my power ratings, so there looks to be plenty of parity in the conference this season.
Loyola: The Ramblers return big man Cameron Krutwig, who averaged 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, along with some other key players, but did lose the last two conference Players of the Year. But after back-to-back conference titles, Loyola has to get a slight nod here based on their defense.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers return a slew of players who contributed last season, including leading scorer AJ Green and four other players who averaged more than 7 points per game.
Bradley: The Braves return several key players from last season’s NCAA Tournament, but need a little more scoring inside if they want to return to the Big Dance.
Missouri State: The return of three double-digit scorers and a few transfers have the Bears thinking conference title and it’s not out of the question.
Drake: Drake returns a couple of key players in T.J. Wilkins and Temell Murphy and sees Roman Penn transfer after a strong freshman season at Sienna and big man Brady Ernst comes over from Florida Gulf Coast. They could battle for the title if things fall right.
Indiana State: The Sycamores return a lot of faces from last year’s squad, which struggled in conference play after picking-up a few impressive preseason wins.
Evansville: The Purple Aces were a pretty big disappointment last season, as they finished at the bottom of the league standings, but do have enough talent to finish middle-of-the-pack this season.
Illinois State: Illinois State probably under-achieved last year, finishing 9-9 in conference play with plenty of talent. A lot of those players are gone and the Redbirds’ fate this season will be determined by how well the transfers do.
Valparaiso: The Crusaders return several key players and have transfers coming in from Seton Hall and St. Joe’s, but need to have the offense pick it up a bit, as Valpo isn’t bad defensively.
Southern Illinois: The Salukis return Aaron Cook and Eric McGill, although not much else and will have a new coach in Bryan Mullins.
Missouri Valley Conference Opening Power Ratings
|Northern Iowa Panthers||78|
|Missouri State Bears||77|
|Indiana State Sycamores||75|
|Evansville Purple Aces||74|
|Illinois State Redbirds||73|
|Southern Illinois Salukis||72|